In a recent case, a plaintiff filed a medical malpractice claim, alleging that the defendant negligently failed to obtain informed consent. The plaintiff suffered a lower back injury and subsequently underwent a lumbar spine surgery. Prior to the surgery, the plaintiff and the doctor talked about the risks and consequences involved in the surgery. According to the plaintiff, the doctor told him that the surgery had a 99% chance of success, that he would not have any more pain, and that he would recover in three days. The doctor denied having made these statements. The plaintiff also signed a consent form before surgery. The form he signed included an acknowledgement that he had been informed of significant risks, and it listed several potential consequences. It also stated that no result or cure had been promised.
After the surgery, the plaintiff’s lower back pain increased, and he also experienced additional symptoms, including numbness and shaking in his leg, as well as mental health issues. He also found out after the surgery from another doctor that the success rate of the surgery he underwent was actually 50% or less. He then sued his doctor for failure to obtain informed consent because he did not understand the potential consequences.
Under the state’s law, the plaintiff had to show that the risks that he suffered, particularly a worsened condition and increased pain, were material risks of the procedure. The defendant argued that the plaintiff failed to provide an expert on the issue of materiality, but the court found that an expert was not required. The treating doctor in this case testified that he discusses the risks with every patient because patients can experience further pain after this surgery. Thus, the doctor’s own statements indicated that increased pain and a worsened condition were material risks. For that reason, the court allowed the case to continue.